Women should have the right to choose when to get married, and the number of children to have, said a UN expert at a Doha International Family Institute (Difi) event held at the UN.
“In addition, husbands should have full access to efficient and affordable family planning methods,” said Dr Luay Shabaneh, regional director of the United Nations Population Fund/Arab States.
During the recent United Nations 55th Session of the Commission on Population and Development, the overarching theme of which was "population and sustainable development, in particular sustained and inclusive economic growth," Difi, organised a virtual side event titled “Quality over Quantity – How Parental Decisions are Impacting Fertility” in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Qatar and the United Nations Population Fund – Regional Office of Arab States (UNFPA).
Building on a study by Difi, a member of Qatar Foundation, on the “social aspects of fertility in Qatar,” the side-event discussed the impact of quality of life and quality parenting on declining fertility rates, and identified the best policy measures and best practices available worldwide as lessons learned.
“These are decisive factors in determining fertility at the family level. Freedom of choice to enjoy reproductive rights, supported by quality education and high-quality services, ensure a balanced development of population growth and achieves the well-being of societies,” Dr Shabaneh said. “Therefore, UNFPA works to ensure that men and women enjoy sexual and reproductive health services and rights.
“Fertility at the family level depends on a complex system of factors such as culture, religious interpretations, the value system of society, the economic level and social class, in addition to the cultural heritage of prevailing customs and social norms. Any interference in parents' decisions regarding the number of children to have must be based on the right to choice and human rights. The unavailability or inefficiency of family planning programmes affects the level of fertility, which leads to a large number of unwanted pregnancies.”
Welcoming remarks during the side-event were given by Ambassador Alya Ahmed S al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations, who said: “We are proud of the work of the Doha International Family Institute. Through its consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, it has been keen to share its work and research with the international community. Through its co-operation with UNFPA especially in their collaborative efforts, it aims to understand the connection between parental decisions and fertility.”
Speakers, including Prof George Leeson, professorial fellow at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing; Dr Luay Shabaneh, regional director of the United Nations Population Fund/Arab States, and Dr Sharifa al-Emadi, executive director of Difi, took part in engaging discussions throughout the event, which was moderated by Sultana Afdhal, chief executive officer of the World Innovation Summit for Health.
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